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Isolated Norfolk villages set to be offered ultrafast broadband

PUBLISHED: 12:54 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:01 17 July 2019

Full fibre broadband could be coming to 20 villages around Diss and Thetford. Picture: County Broadband

Full fibre broadband could be coming to 20 villages around Diss and Thetford. Picture: County Broadband

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Thousands of households in rural villages around Diss and Thetford have been earmarked for ultrafast broadband that would see connection speeds race from among the slowest to some of the fastest in the UK.

A third of residents and businesses would need to commit to pre-ordering for each of the roll out villages around Diss and Thetford to get ultrafast broadband. Picture: County BroadbandA third of residents and businesses would need to commit to pre-ordering for each of the roll out villages around Diss and Thetford to get ultrafast broadband. Picture: County Broadband

County Broadband, an Essex-based based provider that specialises in bringing broadband into difficult to get to rural areas, has identified 20 villages in South Norfolk and Breckland for the rollout of a gigabit-capable full-fibre network.

It would mean villagers used to being stuck in the digital slow lane would gain some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK, up to 20 times the national average, meaning they could download HD films in minutes and albums in seconds.

Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: "We are very excited to announce our first full-fibre rollout plans in Norfolk to help transform the county's digital landscape and rural economies. Our investment in Norfolk's infrastructure will not only make many forgotten villages fit for the future but will also place them in the top seven per cent for UK digital connectivity."

The company is not currently identifying the villages in its initial Norfolk roll out for commercial reasons, but has confirmed they are in the Diss and Thetford areas. They are to begin holding village information meetings later this summer.

Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said its ultrafast broadband plans would make villages fit for the future. Picture: County BroadbandLloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said its ultrafast broadband plans would make villages fit for the future. Picture: County Broadband

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At least 30pc of residents and businesses in each village will need to commit to pre-ordering for the green light to start construction. The network would be installed in 2020 and be available to all premises.

The urban-rural digital divide has left many rural households with slow broadband speeds. Recent Ofcom research found the average download speed in the UK countryside was megabits per second, compared with 63 in urban areas.

Currently 92pc of homes and businesses in Norfolk have access to superfast broadband, which offers download speeds of 24 megabits per second. The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme aims to deliver 95pc coverage by the end of March 2020.

However the government pledged last year that the entire UK should have access to full-fibre by 2033 to catch up with the rest of the world.

Full-fibre broadband provides speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second through fibre optic cables connected directly into properties and offices even in difficult-to-reach areas.

Mr Felton added: "This is a unique and golden opportunity for all residents and businesses in our rollout areas to seize the future. We ask them to look out for information which we are publicising locally to find out how they can take advantage of our full-fibre networks."

- Find out more about coverage and upcoming village meetings at the County Broadband postcode checker

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